Montana health system sued over oncologist's sudden absence

A class-action lawsuit filed Nov. 13 against St. Peter's Health in Helena, Mont., claims patients of Tom Weiner, MD, an oncologist at the hospital, weren't consulted before his unexplained absence in late October, resulting in gaps in their care, reports the Independent Record.

The suit alleges Dr. Weiner's unexplained absence has left patients unassigned to a new physician who will take over their care, rescheduling critical appointments, and undue stress and anxiety. 

"The circumstances around Dr. Weiner's absence are private and confidential, therefore, St. Peter's is not legally allowed to provide more information," Wade Johnson, CEO at St. Peter's, wrote in an op-ed. 

At least 96 patients have expressed interest in becoming plaintiffs in the case and demand a jury trial, according to the Independent Record. The suit states that the plaintiffs and class reserve the right to seek punitive damages from a jury. 

A St. Peter's Health spokesperson did not answer questions sent from Becker's and shared a Nov. 17 statement confirming Dr. Weiner no longer works for the health system and will not care for patients at their cancer treatment center. 

"The quality and safety of the care we provide to all patients is our highest priority. In fact, it is because of our increased focus on quality and safety that we identified and are addressing these issues," Mr. Johnson wrote in the statement. St. Peter's is working to recruit new oncologists, and is currently operating with three board-certified medical oncologists who are "closely reviewing each patient's diagnosis and treatment plan."  

Editor's note: This story was updated Nov. 20 at 5 pm CST. 

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